This is the filter that Amy and I are running everything through, “memories over things.”
Being born and raised in the United States has certainly been an incredible blessing. I have said many times before that those of us fortunate enough to be able to claim that, have won the lottery of life. Yes there are many here who struggle but not compared to most of the rest of the world. The freedoms and opportunities we enjoy, sadly are taken for granted a lot of the time. We lose sight of how amazing things like clean water and a free public education actually are. We have become a society of consumers and entitled ones at that.
We believe in “The American Dream”. Recently we have taken stock of that dream and have figured out that it cannot be put into a box. The American Dream is subjective and different for different people based on their beliefs and desires. Most, when asked about the American Dream would no doubt spit out the proverbial marriage, 2 1/2 kids and a white picket fence without really considering if that is what they really want. When considering what we do want, we speak in things. A nice car, a big house, a boat, or any number of other things that usually come at the sacrifice of most of our monthly earnings.
Later in life we begin to reflect on what is really important. At least we have. This is not a judgement by any means. I am just trying to articulate where we have come from and how we have come to decide to sell it all and just go. We are serial entrepreneurs. We were bit by the dreaming bug at a very early age. We were conditioned that it is okay to want more and if we work hard enough for it, anything is possible. We have had dream and vision boards filled with luxury automobiles, mansions, vacation homes, boats and more. We have always dreamed of having the freedom to do what we wanted when we wanted with who we wanted. It was always about stuff. We believed that with all kinds of stuff we would be able to do awesome things and have great experiences. Our heads were always down and our noses always to the grindstone. We had successes and we had massive failures. Through it all we have had each other and yes there have been bloodied knees and tears but there have been way more smiles and good times.
When we discovered that we could live the life of the millionaires that we always aspired to be without actually being millionaires we had to take a step back and dissect our own American Dream. When we began to look at the things we wanted most, it was clear that it was the experiences that we thought the stuff was going to bring us. We had to be honest and realize that some of what the stuff got us was not that great in actuality. Some of what we were seeking would only serve to show us how we compared to others. Seriously, do we need a Mercedes G Wagon, or do we want it because its cool and everyone would tell us that? Do we really need a 10,000 square foot house? That is a lot to keep clean. We are in a 2700 square foot house now and we have two rooms that we never go in. So the question becomes what do we need?
Can of worms opened here.
Walk out into you garage and grab a box from the shelf. Did you know what was in that box before you opened it? When was the last time you used it? How often have you used it in the last five years. How much did you spend on it? Right about now you may be shaking a bit at just the thought. I certainly was. Why in the world do I own a bowling ball and shoes? Well, I was part of a league 14 years ago for one year. It was an excuse to go out with guys from work and have a few beers once a week. A normal suburban thing to do. Except I really did not love to bowl. I have only bowled a few times since than and while it may seem impressive when I show up with my own stuff, the truth is that I have moved it more in the same time than I have used it. The 7 totes of camping gear that we used maybe once a year and now not at all, because we are too wise to “tent” anymore? Yeah, don’t need it. So much stuff! Another great example is Amy’s Parents; 42 years in the same house. They raised two kids there and after they were grown they wanted to get a smaller rambler. The amount of stuff they acquired in 42 years was staggering! At the end of the day they only took a small portion of it with them when they moved. Literally we walked through the old house after they moved and wondered what they actually took because there was still an entire house still there.
If not things, then what?
LIFE! Our relationships and our families. The memories we create. At the end of the day that is all we have. It is all we will take with us and it is the only thing that will fill your mind in the last moments of your life.
Our son told us the story of a guy that he works with that was close to retirement. A few weeks ago he had a heart attack and last weekend he died. Now I do not pretend to know his story. I do not know what was important to him or how he chose to live his life. All I can do is to imagine that reality into my life right now and it motivates me to act. Amy and I want to experience things. We want to take time now, while we are physically able, to go experience new things, explore the world, and create some amazing memories. We are of focused, on the same page, and moving in the same direction.
We are choosing a different path than most, but it is ours. In the next year we will be getting rid of everything that cannot fit into two backpacks and carried on our backs. No room for the 9 totes of Christmas decorations. Instead we may experience Christmas in Norway or Argentina. No room for that nice stainless steel barbecue. Instead we will have to resort to street barbecue in Belize or a market in Vietnam. Cars? The adventure of railways in Eastern Europe or a tuk tuk ride in Bangkok await us. While we truly may miss our 1200 thread-count sheets and private toilets the sense of adventure is calling and we want to get to it while we are able.
For this chapter in our lives we say, “Memories over things!”